Archive for the 'Editor' Category

(i.e. shooting fish in a barrel)

As I have noted before, debunking the theological hokum that runs rampant in the God-blogosphere has never been a primary purpose for this blog, but has been described for years as “the lowliest” of the six tasks that this blog seeks to accomplish.  This perspective was, IMHO, strengthened by the somewhat recent name and URL change that we underwent here.

But in the words of Dr Horrible, sometimes “a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do”.  Especially when it’s this dadgum funny (in the “ludicrous” sense of the word).

A little context first:

Mark 4:11 – And [Jesus] said to them, “To you it has been given to know the mystery  of the kingdom of God …”

Romans 16:25 – Now to Him who is able to establish you according to my gospel and the preaching of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret since the world began

1 Corinthians 2:7 – But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory,

1 Corinthians 15:51 – Behold, I tell you a mystery: We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed …

Ephesians 1:9 – having made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His good pleasure which He purposed in Himself,

Ephesians 3:3-4 – how that by revelation He made known to me the mystery (as I have briefly written already, by which, when you read, you may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ),

Ephesians 3:9 – and to make all see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the ages has been hidden in God who created all things through Jesus Christ;

Ephesians 5:32 – This is a great mystery, but I speak concerning Christ and the church.

Ephesians 6:19 – and for me, that utterance may be given to me, that I may open my mouth boldly to make known the mystery of the gospel,

Colossians 1:25-27 – the mystery which has been hidden from ages and from generations, but now has been revealed to His saints. To them God willed to make known what are the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles: which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Colossians 2:2 – that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,

Colossians 4:3 – meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains,

1 Timothy 3:9 – holding the mystery of the faith with a pure conscience.

1 Timothy 3:16 – And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifested in the flesh, Justified in the Spirit, Seen by angels, Preached among the Gentiles, Believed on in the world, Received up in glory.

Notice a pattern? Is it too much of a stretch to say that the word “mystery” is often used in Scripture to describe (or at least be associated with) good things?

Now, admittedly, there is a verse in Revelation that associates this word with something bad:

Revelation 17:5 – And on her forehead a name was written: MYSTERY, BABYLON THE GREAT, THE MOTHER OF HARLOTS AND OF THE ABOMINATIONS OF THE EARTH.

So, let’s see.  Fourteen associations with good things. One association with something bad. Is it too much of a stretch to say that it would be at least fallacious (if not downright silly) to somehow imply that the Revelation verse is the only standard by which we should measure the word “mystery” (ignoring the other 14)?

Yet that’s exactly what this post does.

Now granted, I have some major problems with Brian McLaren (the “attackee” of that post).

They used to be purely theological until I heard him sing.  But I digress.

But how am I supposed to take seriously anything said about him (or anything/anyone else) from a source so devoid of basic logic?

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In a recent posting over at the Christian Research Network the Editor points out that Willowcreek and Focus on the Family are promoting a book and study and ministry on contemplative prayer.

Examples are given that, I can only assume, are suppose to provide evidence/examples of something nefarious.  I say “I can only assume” because the examples are offered without argument as to what about them is objectionable.

Willowcreek is promoting Emotionally Healthy Spirituality co-founded by Pete and Geri Scazzero.  Now, I have no idea who they are – whether they be orthodox or heretics – and the post at CRN does not help either.  The post does offer one example of the content

Tenet 4 of the 12 Foundational Tenets on the website states, “the church today parallels that of the Roman Empire in the 4th and 5th century. Following the example of Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus, the desert fathers fled to the desert to seek God, we too must find our deserts in the midst of our activity for Christ. We can learn a great deal from the contemplative, monastic tradition as we seek to remain rooted as we engage the world with the gospel.”

To this I must respond with – “So?”  All the people listed – Moses, Elijah, John the Baptist and Jesus, the desert fathers – I believ it is safe to say, used time alone, whether in a real desert or a metaphorical one – to be alone with the Father.

And even if it is found out that they did not all do this – that Jesus found it necessary is enough for me.

So,  from this post at CRN I cannot tell what it is about Emotionally Healthy Spirituality that is unbiblical.  Then again, rereading the post, maybe their intent was to promote the course since they make no argument, or show no proof, of why it should be avoided.

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Duct Tape - Use Some

Ah, the silly season has arrived, yet again.

Over the past several years of blogging, I’ve noticed a number of trends in topics, discussions and general attitudes which seem to cycle with the calendar. For example, it seems that July is the month for a large uptick in seeing commenters, cited articles and site authors (including myself) to lose patience and get ultra-snippy and personally petty about one another.

Christmas season settles down (from a personal-tone standpoint), but conflicts about personal preference (of all orders – music/worship style, dress, drinking, etc.) come to the forefront.

January/February seems to foster a bit more focused theological debate (often with systematic theologies in the crosshairs), etc.

It’s not that these things don’t happen other times during the year, it is just that they tend to “spike” at certain parts more than others.

Early fall, though, seems to be a season where a lack of basic reading comprehension and any sense of charity toward ones theological “enemies” seems to ratchet up. And this one, like last year, (or previous years) is gearing up to be no exception to the rule.

For example, we have a frequent commenter in one thread who is so blinded in his hatred for another brother in Christ that he reads/hears his brother say and explain one thing (”early Christianity was a subversive movement in the Roman Empire, which hijacked its symbology to declare Jesus as Lord of all, not Caesar”) and accuses him of saying the opposite (”early Christianity was just a cheap knock-off of Rome”).   It is like either A) basic literary comprehension or B) any guise of honesty has taken a holiday…

And then, we have this example, submitted to us by M.G., where a similar “perfect storm” of hatred, ill-will and an utter lack of charity or comprehension (or, possibly, tinfoil-hattery) has led tinpot ODM’s to accuse Rick Warren of trying to merge the church and state – completely misunderstanding (or misappropriating) “reconciliation” to mean something it does not…

And then, there’s the frequent purveyor of misapplication and miscomprehension, Mike Ratliff, who apparently has no clue about what orthopraxis is, or, apparently, that ’systematic theology’ and ’sound doctrine’ aren’t synonymous.  (Though, once again, I think ODM criticism has led me to want to purchase a book subjected to their criticism).

And on… And on…

As I read this screed over the weekend, I was struck A) by how little I missed reading C?N – I’d gone a couple of months without “researching” it; and B) How right Rob Bell was in his August 16th message “The Importance of Beginning in the Beginning” , in which he laid out (in a 65-minute message that intentionally ran long) his view of how Christians fit into Creation, and how important it is that we root our understanding of Christianity in Genesis 1, and not Genesis 3.

But I’m sure there will be some who purposely “misunderstand” him, and will argue (somehow) that he is stating the opposite of what he’s saying.

But let’s not blame them for their stupidity.  It IS that time of year, you know…

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(or today’s “fish in a barrel” moment )

It wasn’t the main point of the post, but this still jumped out at me.  While dumping on Ekklesia Detroit Church regarding another issue, Ken the “editor” at C?N irrelevantly noted: “It seems they’ve also found time to interview Satan as well.”

Granted, that sentence has no explicit statement that Ken the editor thinks that the Satan interview video is a bad thing.  But given the track record at C?N (that nothing good can come out of Nazareth those that they criticize), and given the overall tone of the rest of the post, it’s very much within the realm of probability that Ken the editor thinks it’s a bad thing.

And frankly, I have to agree.  A video portraying Satan and his views on Christianity and the Church has no place in our faith.  Why, if we’re not careful, someone will write an entire book with this premise.  And then respected “Christian” actors will create plays based on the book.  And then “Christians” will claim to “learn” from these demonic resources.

It’s the beginning of the end, people.

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Sometimes the headlines of the check-out line tabloids are so outlandish they become funny. You almost want to read the article to see what they are really talking about… though I never do, not wishing to fall for the obvious ploy.

In a similar vein, I did check out a post at CR?N that linked to another post at Apprising (I cannot bring myself to type the word “ministries” in connection with that site,) The headline in both cases is Contemplative Eugene Peterson Discourages Reading the Bible. In the latter site the headline reads in all caps, as if shouting out from some self-imagined wall.

The only problem with the headline is the fact that in the very quote offered as proof Peterson discourages Bible reading he is promoting Bible reading. DOH! My first inclination was to say Ken Silva is lying about Peterson, but when the quote you offer negates the claim of your headline, that’s not lying, that’s something else all together. (I also think Silva uses “Contemplative” as an insult – though I don’t know why since it’s biblically encouraged.)

Headline/article alignment at Apprising ______ and CR?N – FAIL!

Apprising and CR?N understanding of a man’s simply caution about misreading the Bible - FAIL!

Silva being caught in his own egocentric cultural bondage while accusing the brethren of promoting spiritual bondage – WIN! (…technically the latter is also a failure, and probably the saddest aspect of the whole affair, but as irony it is a win)

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So often I’ve tried to convince those in the blogosphere that what they are printing is false or less than accurate with no success.  But I can tell you that whenever someone sends me an email from the “source” I dismiss it out of hand because…well…that source is less than credible.

Often times we here try to point out that what is being promulgated as fact is actually skewed opinion wrapped with shreds of truth. This is done with a varying degree of success.

In lieu of the following article appearing this morning on MSN I will forgo my previous planned closing of the article.   Irish student hoaxes world’s media with fake quote.

The student Shane Fitzgerald had this to say:

“I am 100 percent convinced that if I hadn’t come forward, that quote would have gone down in history as something Maurice Jarre said, instead of something I made up,” he said. “It would have become another example where, once anything is printed enough times in the media without challenge, it becomes fact.”

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My grandfather was the greatest man I’ve ever known. Truly; he was my hero. Everything good that every developed in my life can be traced directly to my relationship with Christ and the wisdom that my grandfather shared with me.

I distinctly remember my grandfather relating to me about his pride in working at the Ford plant. His job on the line was to put a pin stripe down the side of the Grand Marquis car. He would say “Every time I see one of those cars I realize that that pin stripe is my signature. Nobody knows that I was the one that put it on there but I know”. It was his way of saying that whatever you do, do it as though everyone would know that you did it.

My grandfather also would continually remind me that “if anything you do is not worthy of putting your name on it then perhaps it shouldn’t be done.” This was is way of saying if you have to hide behind a veil because of shame, guilt, embarrassment, or fear of response then you should probably not do whatever it is you are going to do.

Over the last several days, months, years, it has been asked/said “What makes you different? You’re exactly the same.” While it would be simple enough to point that we are in fact different in many ways it never truly satisfies those ask. It would also be simple enough to ask; If you have a problem with what we do then why do support what they do? But again this type of introspection never occurs with those who ask. But in one area that we are decidedly different is that we take ownership of the words that we write. We have lots of discussion about pen names, monikers, abbreviations, etc…and all of us are of the mind that if we have to resort to hiding who we are because of what we write then it’s not worth it to write.

I’m continually proud of the accountability that all of the writers here have with each other. I’m not certain that many readers realize that aspect of this blog. Additionally many of us have contact with those who comment outside of this forum which adds another layer to accountability. We work very hard to be above board in all that we do. With the good stuff and the ugly stuff.

All this to say that it truly is evidence of what you believe when you don’t allow comments, responses to emails or questions, or refuse to put your name on your work. My grandfather would say if “you can’t handle the critique of your work you probably shouldn’t be doing it”.

My grandfather didn’t know Jesus but he did understand what it meant to take ownership over your actions. Regardless of the outcome.

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With all the hub bub spinning around Rick Warren and his prayer it appears he is now being hit from another angle.  That from those of other faiths who are concerned he is going to pray in the name of Jesus.

Warren did not answer directly when asked whether he would dedicate his prayer to Jesus. In a statement Tuesday to The Associated Press, Warren would say only that, “I’m a Christian pastor so I will pray the only kind of prayer I know how to pray.”

“Prayers are not to be sermons, speeches, position statements nor political posturing. They are humble, personal appeals to God,” Warren wrote. His spokesman would not elaborate.

emphasis mine

I’m not sure of the exact count but I think that makes 4 angles in which he is being attacked.

1) His stance on Gay marriage has angered gays but not ADM’s

2) His acceptance to pray has angered ADM’s but not Gays; they’re angry at Obama.

3) His stance on reaching out to other faiths has caused ADM’s to question his salvation and if he will use the name of Jesus

4) His stance on being a Christian pastor has caused other faiths to question if he should use the name of Jesus.  No word yet from ADM’s on how they feel.

Full article

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…smoke gets in your eyes” – so the song goes.  In a recent set of posts the editor of CRN? attacks a youth pastor for asking a tactical ministry question: “Have you ever taught a dedicated lesson to your whole group on stealing or have you limited it to when it comes up in other contexts” – [my paraphrase].

The point of the fire and smoke metaphor is emotion can cloud your judgment.  I hope this has happened to the Editor at CRN?, either that or this post is premeditated deception.  Those are the two options I came up with; either the editor is purposefully (pun intended) twisting and misrepresenting what was written in the pastor’s blog, or his/her disdain for anything Saddleback has so clouded the mind that clarity of thought and true discernment is no longer possible.  When your heat is on fire smoke gets in your eyes.

The title of the post shows the deception or confusion: Saddleback Youth Pastor Uncertain If He Should Teach Against Stealing.  A casual reading of the title might make you think that Joshua Griffin, youth pastor at Saddleback, is uncertain whether or not stealing is a sin, or if this sin should be taught against.  In the article itself the editor asks “Has Youth Pastor Josh ever heard of the Ten Commandments?!?”  And goes on to scold him since “Apparently the Biblical mandate against stealing was not enough to convince Youth Pastor Josh from Saddleback Church that stealing should be addressed to the whole ministry.”

Of course, a simple reading of the original blog, which is only one paragraph long immediattly dispels any issue.  It is simply a question of tactics in teaching… nothing more.

This is either a case of gross misunderstanding (smoke in eye) or a gross case of pure deception… for the sake of the editor and the cause of Christ, I hope it’s the former.

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Sometimes Guilt by Association is enough and no further comment is needed.  On CRN? the “editor” posted an excerpt of a story about Evangelicals adopting Advent.  When I followed the link, I discovered it was not an excerpt but the whole story.  The story is simply “Evangelicals are adopting and adapting Advent rituals.”  No reason is given by either the editor or the watcher why this is an issue except the tag that these are Roman Catholic rituals.  Apparently GBA stands on its own.

What both sites fail to do (as usual) is to exercise true discernment and investigate how Advent is being adopted and adapted by Evangelicals… What meanings are being taught, what practices are being adopted, how are they being adapted to take them from a Roman Catholic ritual into an evangelical experience…?  but then again, that’s probably moot – if the Catholics do it (or ever did) we should not.

When you focus on external behaviors regardless of meaning, when you assume that your way of doing things is the only true way regardless of biblical teaching, when you narrow the method of true worship to a certain time and a certain place… you are forced into a pretty narrow (and extra-biblical) definition of what is orthopraxy – acceptable practices.

It’s a shame to see the worship of God limited to the praxis developed by a Western Culture in a period after the 16th Century but before the 1960’s – anything before this period is too Roman… anything after is too everything else… What a burden they bear, to constantly lift their own cultural praxis to the level of orthpraxis while also constantly making sure the immutable God does not escape from the box they have created for him.

BTW – our thoroughly evangelical and orthodox church has been observing advent for 17 years… I guess we’re ahead of the apostasy wave… who knew?

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